Editor’s Memo: Nevanji Madanhire
We have all watched at least one horror movie in our lives. There is something about the horror movie that begins to creep along the spine before you begin to watch it. And, as you watch it, the spine-chilling feeling intensifies with each scene until you scream.
According to GamesRadar: “The best horror movies are the ones that stick around in your head long after you have turned everything off and tucked yourself into bed for the night. In fact, the best horror movies of all time really only start to scare you the second you switch off your light.”
The horror began in January with the country’s teachers refusing to report for work citing what they called “incapacitation”. Their wages had been weeded away by the faltering economy rendering them some of the poorest people in the communities in which they lived. They demanded, as they still do, a decent salary that would restore their dignity.
By that time the novel coronavirus had not been declared a pandemic and in Zimbabwe, many just thought of it as rumour. Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri assured the nation the virus was sent by God to punish the nations that had imposed sanctions on our dear country, so the virus would never hit our shore.
Then Zororo Makamba happened; he died on March 23. An affable young broadcaster, he became the first Zimbabwean to succumb to the disease now the world knew as Covid-19. It was a wakeup call.
A week later, President Emmerson Mnangagwa went on national TV to announce a national lockdown. The horror began to intensify as millions of people who survived in the informal sector lost their livelihoods. Those trading in the open or in makeshift stalls on roadsides, were ordered to close up and stay home. The majority of them survived only on their daily pickings; without those they would starve!
The government promised to give them food assistance. It would have amounted to a paltry ZW$200 had it materialised; it mostly didn’t and it became riddled with corruption like anything else in Zimbabwe. Some well-to-do people were found on the lists of beneficiaries.
But the people didn’t starve mainly due to their ingenuity; they broke the imposed curfew and continued to trade mostly underground. But this came with its own danger! Once anything is done underground, it becomes difficult to monitor in terms of WHO Covid-19 guidelines. That more people in Zimbabwe didn’t perish is nothing short of a miracle. The numbers may have been underplayed due to inadequate testing, but we all know Armageddon didn’t happen in Zimbabwe in 2020.
But the real horror continued elsewhere. Upstaged by Covid-19, the country didn’t really comprehend the extent of the disaster that continued to unfold in our education system.
Think of the children; they lost a whole year of school mainly because of Covid-19, but also because the teachers’ strike left the children vulnerable to abuse. Many girls were violated and fell pregnant, and drug use rose among students.
What was happening in the education sector was replicated in the healthcare system. Medical personnel were also continually on strike. The two sectors will probably never recover to their past glory.
The year is ending with Tropical Storm Chalane that threatens to do another Cyclone Idai in some areas. It will dump 50mm of rain a day in some areas leading to flash flooding, landslides and death if not managed properly.
As the horror movie that was 2020 ends today, we should brace ourselves for its spine-chilling aftereffects. A horror movie doesn’t end!